- An Opening . . .
Assembling a diversity of scholars under the banner of "critical criminology and socio-legal studies" is not a task to be undertaken lightly. In our efforts to create opportunities for critical academic engagement and reflection – a project reignited by R.S. Ratner in 1999 at the Canadian Sociology and Anthropology Association meetings in Lennoxville, Quebec – we risk becoming gatekeepers to the critical ethos, placing restrictions on who can and who cannot be categorized as (and thus also "accused" of being) "critical." As we seek a collective identity, a welcoming space for thought and research, and a network of opportunity and appreciation, we must not fall into the temptation of drawing boundaries in a manner that is inimical to the critical spirit. Criticism requires pushing at limits, yet the formation of a collectivity and the representation of the collectivity in "collections" such as this one threaten to fix critical criminology and socio-legal studies as a certain and fully comprehensible entity that can be dismissed, disregarded, or destroyed. Thus, there is strength in our plurality and irreducible diversity; however, we also do not wish to dissolve critical criminology and socio-legal studies into a meaningless sea of eclecticism in which all criminologies are critical and the critical spirit is drowned in the cacophony of our collective voices. In this regard, our objective in this issue is to offer a sampling of projects that seek to challenge, in some manner, the hegemony of criminal justice. This collection is but a single mediation of the complexity of oppositional forms of critical criminological and socio-legal thought. We hope that it will inspire future collections, both competing and complementary, and serve as a point in a multi-site, yet shared, struggle to re-imagine critical criminological and socio-legal practice and purpose. [End Page 631]